There should be adequate discussion on railway finances in Parliament even after the merger of Rail Budget with General Budget, a panel of MPs said.
In a report, ‘Structural Changes In Union Budget’, the Committee on Estimates of the Lok Sabha said that NITI Aayog should be given full weightage in allocation of resources for development programme. While approving the government proposal for merger of Railway Budget with General Budget, the Committee said that the financial and functional autonomy of railways should be maintained.
The Railways, it said, should continue to get reimbursement of losses on operation of strategic lines and finance ministry should extend adequate budgetary support “The Committee are sanguine that the working and finances of the railways would continue to be discussed in the House for adequate duration so that the rights of the Members to discuss the Railways Demands for Grants and to call the Railways to account are not infringed or diluted in any manner,” it said.
With regard to merger of Plan/Non Plan expenditure, the Committee wanted to be apprised of the impact of the decision on developmental programmes and activities of the Government.
“The Committee recommend that the expert advice of the NITI Aayog ought to be given full weightage and consideration in the matter of allocation of resources for developmental programmes so that there is more judicious allocation of resources despite concentration of excessive financial powers in a single Ministry,” it said.
Replacing ‘Plan/Non Plan’ classification with ‘capital/ revenue’ expenditure should be done with “fidelity and rationally” so as to overcome wrongful booking of expenditure and to promote transparency and efficiency.
In a major overhaul, the Union Budget of 2017-18 will see doing away with Plan/Non Plan expenditure as well as the merger of two budgets — railway with the general budget. The budget presentation date is also proposed to be preponed to February 1, from the last day of February at present.